Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ethan's Basketball Hoop

On Friday, Ethan bought his very own basketball hoop! He's been saving up ever since Christmas, and we finally went down to pick it out.

Next came the fun part...putting it together!

(Of course, the fun part for some was playing in the box.)

There were a lot more parts than we thought there would be.

We had to improvise one or two of the steps!

Kevin was eager to "help."

The final touch...only after a trip to Home Depot to buy a part or two.

We had barely stood it up and Ethan was already shooting a basket (and he made it!). The other thing I like about this picture is the stormy-looking clouds...we did get rained on a bit.

And, yes, it was dark by the time we finished.
Here's Trevor going for a shot (and almost getting hit in the head by Ethan's shot).

Here's Ethan going for a shot. The smile on his face was priceless, and he's been telling everyone ever since, "I bought it with my own money!"

B-17 Surprise!

About a week ago, Robert's mom was visiting and we were driving in St. Paul. Robert just about jumped out of his skin when he saw this old airplane flying right over the capitol building. He got very excited as he explained that it was a B-17, a bomber from World War II (if you've ever seen the movie "Memphis Belle," it's the same type of plane), and that you just don't see those flying very often. In fact, it was the first time he has seen one in the air. (As a pilot and a World War II buff, you can imagine how excited he was.)

Robert decided it had to have taken off from the St. Paul airport, so off we went in hunt of an explanation for why B-17 was flying over St. Paul on a Saturday. It turns out that this particular B-17 is the only one that flies all over the country. You can even take a flight in it (a mere $450 per person for a 25-minute flight), or take a look at it for free once it's on the ground. Needless to say, we opted for the free option.
Here's the plane coming in to park after landing.

The plane is called the "Liberty Belle." You can see the pilots in this one (as well as the scantily clad woman painted on the side).

The boys were very excited to go inside.
(Except Kevin--he was scared the plane would start up. He's not a fan of loud noises.)

Trevor was amazed at how big the propellers were close up.

Robert loved that the cockpit wasn't "behind glass," like in a museum. There was just a rope that separated you from it. He got a good look at it!

Here's Ethan at the bomardier's station. It has the best view from the plane.

Here's Ethan at one of the machine guns...he thought this was very cool.

Robert and Trevor with their game faces on.

We met a lady there whose father flew in the ball turret of the B-17 during the war. They opened up the ball turret and let her get inside to see what it was like. Luckily for us, they let the boys climb in, too. They said they don't usually allow that.

Trevor could barely fit in there! He got to see how they would control the position of the ball turret and fire the guns at the same time. I can't imagine sitting in there during a mission. We met a man whose father flew 30 missions in the ball turret during the war...that's amazing! Robert says it was probably one of the least safe places to be.

This man flew in a B-17 during the war. He was a tail gunner.

Here he is checking out the tail gun. He's looking for the entrance to the tail gunner's position. You couldn't access it from the inside of the plane. You had to crawl in through a door just under the wing before take-off. Unbelievable!

We had a great time experiencing this amazing plane and getting an in-person history lesson. I loved how much the people there respected and revered the men who flew in these planes or served in other ways during the war. We owe a lot to those brave men and women!